Avian habitat use under disturbance

Using opportunistic camera-trap imagery to examine habitat use by birds in Tasmania along a disturbance gradient

Degree type

PhD

Closing date

24 September 2021

Campus

Hobart

Citizenship requirement

Domestic/International Onshore

About the research project

All species are subjected to alterations or disturbance in their habitat, affecting the assembly and dynamics of biotic communities, and the habitat that individuals select. For bird species, alterations to habitat can lead to changes in their demography, physiology, behaviour, inter-specific interactions and ultimately, their ecological niche.

This project will use the DEEP Group's extensive, ongoing camera trap (CT) network, arrayed around the southern and western parts of Tasmania (along with past data from the east), to explore the bird community composition and turnover in response to anthropogenic and natural disturbance, drawing on data from >1,200 sites, from 2018-present. A fundamental goal is to better determine and model the mechanisms that underpin the realised niche of Tasmanian birds.

The camera-network data will be complemented with traditional bird surveys (e.g., point observations over a fixed time. and other remote-detection options like audio recordings), and additional linear camera studies along targeted disturbance gradients. This project will cover a range of different habitat types (e.g., dry and wet forest, rainforest and button grass plains) as well as different types of disturbance (e.g., response to fire, forestry, roads, and other human activities).

This project will involve a combination of fieldwork and desktop-based research, including experimental camera trapping, analysis and modelling of large databases, and machine learning applications. Outcomes of the project will help conservation efforts by taking an evidence-based approach to management decisions made to reduce the potential impacts of human-based activities on the dynamics of bird communities, and natural systems in general.

Primary Supervisor

Meet Prof Barry Brook

Funding

Applicants will be considered for a Research Training Program (RTP) scholarship or Tasmania Graduate Research Scholarship (TGRS) which, if successful, provides:

  • a living allowance stipend of $28,597 per annum (2021 rate, indexed annually) for 3.5 years;
  • a relocation allowance of up to $2,000; and
  • a tuition fees offset covering the cost of tuition fees for up to four years (domestic applicants only)

If successful, international applicants will receive a University of Tasmania Fees Offset for up to four years.

As part of the application process you may indicate if you do not wish to be considered for scholarship funding.

Eligibility

The project is open to domestic (Australian and New Zealand) and international applicants who are already in Australia (onshore) at the time of submitting their application.

Due to current Australian COVID-19 travel restrictions the University cannot accept applications from international applicants who are currently overseas.

Applicants should review the Higher Degree by Research minimum entry requirements and the following additional eligibility criteria specific to this project:

  • Applications are open to Conservation Biology, Ornithology, Wildlife or Community Ecology discipline backgrounds only

Selection Criteria

The project is competitively assessed and awarded.  Selection is based on academic merit and suitability to the project as determined by the College.

Additional essential selection criteria specific to this project:

  • Demonstrated strong research and analytical skills
  • Familiarity with analysis/modelling tools: R, GIS, Excel, SQL

Additional desirable selection criteria specific to this project:

  • Experience in remote field work (ideally using wildlife camera traps)

Application process

There is a three-step application process:

  1. Select the project, and check you meet the eligibility and selection criteria;
  2. Contact the Primary Supervisor, Prof Barry Brook, if you have any questions about the project; and
  3. Click here to submit an application by the closing date listed above.
    • Copy and paste the title of the project from this advertisement into your application. If you don’t correctly do this your application may be rejected.
    • As part of your application you will be required to submit a covering letter, a CV including 2 x referees and your project research proposal.

Following the application closing date applications will be assessed within the College. Applicants should expect to receive notification of the outcome by email.

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